Gifts for the Unrepentant Luddite

Rawfords Mill near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, circa 1810. The textile mill was the first of its kind to introduce mechanization and was attacked by members of the Luddite movement in protest at job losses, circa 1811.
Rawfords Mill near Huddersfield, Yorkshire, circa 1810. The textile mill was the first of its kind to introduce mechanization and was attacked by members of the Luddite movement in protest at job losses, circa 1811.
Graphic: Andrew Liszewski/Gizmodo, Image: Hulton Archive/Getty
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You know that special person in your life, the one who thinks technology is all around us. Who can taste the stink of it, as it were, and worries they’ll be infected by it? The result? Their anger at modernity creates a sense of absolute horror at what the world has become, and, worse, makes them really hard to shop for.

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The Luddites hated manufacturers who used machines to escape the rise of fair labor practices. The term, as we use it today, also describes someone who eschews tech for handmade stuff. And so we present a list of handmade items that, luckily, won’t ship until after Christmas anyway. In other words, you can give the gift of a promise and then have the item delivered when it’s been hand-created by the makers in question.

A Handkerchief ($35)

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Photo: Etsy

Because nearly everything uses some sort of mechanization, we’ll start with something small: a handkerchief.

There are a number of examples of finely-wrought, hand-woven linen on Etsy and while many are fairly old, it’s nice to know your anti-tech friend or family member can spread their germs more effusively by using a classic piece of fabric versus, say, a machine-made tissue.

RGM Model 222-RR Watch ($5,950)

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Next, we move higher up the hand to the wrist. While anyone can strap on a machine-made Timex or, worse, and Apple Watch, it’s surprisingly hard to find a watch that is truly hand made. That’s why your Luddite loved one will have to settle for something called “New Old Stock,” a term that describes a watch or watch movement that was made in the days before automation but is still in pristine condition.

The $5950 Model 222-RR watch by RGM is handmade in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in a repurposed bank building nestled in Amish country. The case, face, and band are made by hand using machines of which the Luddites would approve simply because they require one worker to operate one machine to produce one item. The movement is a bit dicey — there are no truly handmade movements in the world these days excepting a few watches that might be too expensive for your Luddite friend — so you’re going to have to make do with a refurbished Hamilton movement from the era of pocket watches.

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Litchy Guitars Sinker Redwood and Cocobolo Single Ought Guitar ($8,350)

Illustration for article titled Gifts for the Unrepentant Luddite
Photo: Lichty Guitars (Other)
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Lichty Guitars is one of the few guitar makers that produces instruments entirely by hand and their interesting designs and slightly organic curves attest to that fact. The $8,350 Sinker Redwood and Cocobolo Single Ought Guitar features the thinner body of an older Martin with the decadence of high-end woods.

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ShaveSmith Straight Razor ($265+)

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Photo: ShaveSmith
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Once it’s time to leave the house, however, you want to look presentable. Why not touch up that shave with a handmade straight razor?

ShaveSmith is a company run by Christopher Schall in Fort Collins, Colorado. Schall makes and customizes straight razors by hand, creating razors out of little more than steel and carved wood. For about $300 you can get a razor that looks like something out of a Japanese Samurai movie or an old-timey western barbershop.

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Custom Leather-Bound Book

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Photo: BooksForAllTime (Other)
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Bound by hand by Lindsey Julow of Lake Champlain Islands, Vermont, these books would look at home in the library of an eccentric lawyer. Julow also makes beautiful handbound journals and can turn nearly any book into a custom work of art.

Her “Tree of Life” model is particularly beautiful and features a tree right out of the Mines of Moria.

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Custom Bust ($3,990)

Illustration for article titled Gifts for the Unrepentant Luddite
Photo: Ancient Sculpture Gallery (Other)
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Finally, we offer a bit of classical sculpture for your favorite Luddite. A company in New Jersey called Ancient Sculpture Gallery offers custom busts of your loved ones for prices that might make you blush. They can carve the bust in two to three months for the cool price of $3,990 and they can also recreate classic sculpture if you want your own marble copy of Michelangelo’s David. Whether you’re a captain of industry or want to literally reproduce bronze copies of your head and pass them out—a service the company offers — you’ll remain head and shoulders above the technological fray.

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John Biggs is a writer from Ohio who lives in Brooklyn. He likes books, watches, and his dog. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo. Signal: +16468270591 Telegram: @johnbiggs

DISCUSSION

arcanumv
Arcanum Five

I like to give Luddites French wooden shoes (sabots) and monkey wrenches.

You never know what they might do with them. Something constructive, I’m sure.